Monday, 14 August 2017

Graduate to Grown Up: April

April, age 33.
Studied Economics at the University of York, graduated in 2005. 

Immediately after you had graduated, what did you want to do?
I had been fortunate enough to obtain a place on a graduate training scheme as an actuary. However, after working there for 3 weeks, I knew it wasn't right for me. I'm not one to give up easily, but equally I am a big believer that life is too short - and, if you aren't happy, do something else. Within a month I managed to get on a graduate scheme with KPMG, and started in the Corporate Tax department.

What do you do now?
I still work for KPMG 11 years on, but I now work within the Restructuring Team. After working in Corporate Tax for a couple of years, I moved to M&A tax. Then the recession hit, so there wasn't much M&A work, but there was lots of restructuring and insolvency work - so I moved teams. That is definitely one of the advantages of working for a large firm.

What was your motivation for setting up your own business, and what have you learnt from that?
My inspiration for Prenderland Books came to me one day when I was tidying my little girl's bookshelf. She was about 18 months old at the time, and already had so many wonderful books - yet there were so many others I wanted to read to her too. It made me think about book swaps and the fact that, although we know lots of people with children, we never say to them "would like to borrow some of our books, and we'll borrow some of yours?" It was then that I decided to set up a website to promote the idea of sharing books using book swaps. The content of the website developed over time and, when it launched, it included top tips and stationery for Book Swap Play Dates, Book Swap Parties and Book Swap Events. It also included lots of ideas for how to have even more fun with books, free activities to download, and a free Book Ladder challenge. 

As well as providing lots of free resources to inspire children to read and have even more fun with books, I now sell some Prenderland products. Our current products are alphabet and number flash cards, alphabet and number mounted wall prints, a height chart, reward charts with stickers, and a range of greetings cards. I have learnt so much from setting up my own business, including managing social media accounts, how to work with illustrators, and how best to negotiate with regards to wholesale sales. However, most of the skills I have needed in relation to my own business have been transferable from my role at KPMG - for example, project management, networking, prioritising tasks and managing people. 

What has been the biggest challenge of your graduate life so far?
My biggest challenge, by far, has been juggling being a mummy and having a job. I am very fortunate that my job is very flexible - KPMG allowed me to reduce my hours to 4 days a week and work from home. This kind of flexible working is, in my opinion, essential in on order for parents/carers to achieve a good work life balance. Without this flexibility I wouldn't be able to have the career I have and spent the amount of time with my girls as I do. Even with this flexibility, being a mum is still a challenge! There is no rule book, no right, no wrong, no one size fits all approach. You have to learn as you go!

What advice would you give to anyone struggling through their early twenties?
My advice would be to set yourself some clear goals: what do you want to achieve, and how do you intend to achieve it? The goals should be realistic and should come with a time frame within which you are going to achieve them. Ask yourself what help you are going to need from others - it will be impossible to do everything by yourself. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your dreams. Dream big, do something you enjoy, and don't let anyone dishearten you. If other people think your dreams are silly, just work even harder to prove them wrong!

Interested in finding out more about Prenderland Books?
Check out their website:

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1 comment

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